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Sussex cover-up suggested (December 03, 2001)

SUSSEX, N.B. -- Opposition Leader Bernard Richard raised the specter of a cover-up in the government's handling of...

SUSSEX, N.B. — Opposition Leader Bernard Richard raised the specter of a cover-up in the government’s handling of safety concerns at the highway interchange near Sussex.

The interchange was the site of a bus accident in April that killed four schoolchildren.

A letter written by the New Brunswick Road Builders’ Association to then-public safety minister Milt Sherwood expressing concerns about the safety of the stretch of highway near Sussex was made public.

The letter had been written in May 2000, almost a year before the fatal accident, and forwarded to then Transport Minister Margaret-Ann Blaney, who says she had only become aware of it when Liberal MLA Shawn Graham told her about it.

Richard questions if either ministry had shared the letter with the RCMP, which conducted an investigation into the crash.

Transportation Minister Percy Mockler’s reply was the question reminded him of the method Liberals will use to choose a new leader but did not answer the question at hand.

Another question was why the Transportation Department had not installed rumble strips, flashing lights and better signage – as it announced it would do a day after the letter became public – as soon as it had received the letter almost a year before the fatal accident.

“Of those five million vehicles, there were only 15 reported accidents,” Mockler states. “That is a very, very good record.

“The RCMP often advise us of safety concerns. They conducted the investigation of the bus accident … and have not informed us of any problems, because the interchange meets provincial and national guidelines.”

Outside the house, Richard says the road builders association’s letter should have at least been passed onto the RCMP after last April’s crash.
There was a criminal investigation going on and charges could be laid, he says. The letter was pertinent information that should have been made available to the RCMP.

“I’m concerned this is a coverup,” Richard says. “The government was covering its own ass by not providing this information … when they knew there was a public investigation going on.

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